The Titans defense is set to look much different than it did in 2020.
The team parted ways with regulars Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Butler, and Adoree Jackson. Then CB Desmond King and DL Matt Dickerson signed elsewhere in FA. That’s already substantial turnover, and it’s not even factoring in Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones, and Jadeveon Clowney who all remain unsigned.
Bud Dupree, OLB, 5 years, $85 million ($35 million guaranteed)
This was a move that felt destined to happen. Dupree is a natural fit opposite Harold Landry III and should provide a much-needed boost to the defense. While one could argue the price is steep, Dupree has proven capable of providing double-digit sack numbers and the Titans desperately need that.
Dupree was more expensive than comparable guys such as Carl Lawson, but the Titans are probably willing to overpay for sacks at this point. The price is high, and there are injury concerns, but this move should pay dividends.
Denico Autry, DL, 3 years, $21.5 million ($9 million guaranteed)
I loved this signing. The Titans have struggled on the defensive line for years now, and Autry should go a long ways toward solving those issues. With Jack Crawford and DaQuan Jones unsigned, Big Jeff was in need of a running mate. Autry provides a clear upgrade over both of those guys.
In 2020, Autry collected 7.5 sacks for the Colts- a great number for a defensive tackle. If Autry and Simmons provide that level of push from the interior, it will make things easier for Dupree and Landry on the outside. And unlike Dupree, the Titans probably did not overpay here. To make it even better, you take away a really good player from a division rival.
Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson, CB, terms unknown
Out goes Butler, Jackson, and King, and in comes Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson.
On paper, this seems like a massive downgrade. That’s especially true for Johnson, as he received a dreadful 50.6 PFF grade. Johnson was targeted 47 times in 2020 and allowed 35 catches. Those are not promising signs if the Titans expect Johnson to be anything more than a training camp body.
Jenkins on the other hand, had a pretty solid year in NOLA, finishing with 3 INT’s and 43 tackles. Jenkins has had 2 or more INT’s in every season since 2014, so he’s a proven playmaker who can also help the development of any young corners the Titans have around.
I like the Jenkins signing: he should be able to adequately replace Butler on the boundary. As for Johnson? I’m not sure he should be counted on, and there were definitely better options available.